March, 1st, 2016  Kabul


Mahmud Tarzi’s main characteristic was to struggle with the thought of highest benefit for his people and his country.


He, never used his country’s advantages for his own ego ! He believed that in government administration the worse damage comes from insisting in personal interests.

That’s why he was a great stateman !


As we all well know Mahmud Tarzi’s father, respected Ghulam Muhammad Khan was exiled in January 1882 as the result of the frictions between him and Amir Abdurrahman. Ghulam Muhammad with his whole family, was forced to leave Afghanistan. He went to India first. During their exile Mahmud Tarzi together with his father and his tutor Molla Muhammad Akhram travelled to all parts of India.


From India, familly went to Baghdat and later to Damascus. At this period Mahmud beg started meeting Turkish-Ottoman origin people and he often came together with intellectuals and nationalists.

In 1885 he travelled to Istanbul with his father and stayed there for 3 months. He met important high level people who were rulling the state. He even had the honor to meet Sultan Abdulhamid.

During this exile period he improved his Arabic and red and wrote the ottoman-turkish languages.


The effection and respect between Sultan Abdulhamid and Ghulam Muhammad and their mutual interests in fine arts was the reason. They spent long hours together. Ghulam Muhammad, accompanied Abdulhamid’s carpentary skill by his poetry.  Result of this frienship the family moved to Damascus in 1885.


Togetherness of Ghulam Muhammad and Sultan Abdulhamid on and off continued until the years 1889. Ghulam Muhammad assigned Mahmud Tarzi to present his work “Ahlak-i Hamidiye” to the Sultan. Ghulam Muhammad worked three years to write this book and he personally decorated its cover with gold leaves and calligraphic artistry. During this second voyage Mahmud beg had the opportunity to become more close with the nationalists, idealists and to meet “young turks/jon turks” and became friends.

Damascus was Mahmud Tarzi’s important turning point. He met important Turkish litterateurs, academicians and nationalists. He learned a lot about science, physics, maths. . .

In 1887, Mahmud beg became a person who gave direction to Afghan literature with his own style. He was in full knowledge of Dari, Pasthu, Arabic, Turkish and French languages.


During this period around 1876, under great difficulties reforms were actualized in Ottoman Empire. Constitutional monarchy and constitution were accepted. This was quite an advanced movement with in the Islamic world.


In 1896, Mahmud Tarzi took lessons from activist, journalist, political scientist Cemalledin Afghani. He and Molla Muhammad Akhram were the two names effecting Mahmud Tarzi’s intellectual maturity.

Cemalleddin Afghani and Muhammad Abduh published a magazine named Urvatü’l-Vüska. In this magazine they strongly defended the need of reforms and changes in Islamic world. And also the need of to act together against the western – especially English – emperializm.


In 1901 Amir Habibullah ascended the throne in Afhanistan. He loosened his father’s centralist authority and transition period to moderate policy began. Mahmud Tarzi and his family with the request of Amir, returned to Afghanistan in 1902. He was greeted with close and warm attention of the palace.


Mahmud beg since 1885, was in close contact with the “young turks” and he never forgot his friends. He was always in touch with them. His concern of the situation of the “Islamic world and how to save his country from the western emperializm” was his main study all the time. Under this understanding he invited many Turkish reformists and academicians to Afghanistan. Among those who came to Afghanistan the most important ones were accountant Hilmi Fehmi/Elmi Fahmi, dr. Munir Izzet Beg, pharmacist Muhammed beg, engineer Reza beg, Mehmet Fazlı beg, colonel Hasan Hüsnü, Hasan Hilmi beg,

Mehmet Fazlı, in his book “young turks in afghanistan. From exile in Egypt to Afghan reformer” relates the developments in Afghanistan, his happiness to meet Mahmud beg and specifying this important man’s carisma by these words; “modernization of Afghanistan started with Mahmud Tarzi’s character and his accumulation.”

And Mahmud Tarzi started the reforms.


Starting with this movement, teachers from Turkiye came to Afghanistan and started teaching in schools. The result of these togetherness they had talks on how to save the Islam from those narrow minds who prevent to get out of the dilemna.

Later, these groups, Afghans, Turks and Indian intellectuals formed Cavanan-i Afghan as the continuation of young turks. Mahmud beg, though not appearing directly was the leader of this reformist, nationalist movement.


In 1911 Mahmud Tarzi, started to publish the newspaper Seraj-al Akhbar and he became the torch of the Afghan development and people’s prosperity.

In his serious articles he wrote about the national developments in the Ottoman Empire and the double tricks of English policy all around these lands.

Mahmud Tarzi’s work on nationalism, independence that started around 1890 with the “young turks”, became more important when Aman Ullah khan became king.

During this period, Atatürk, founder of Turkish Republic,  started his reforms. His reforms mainly on education and economics found close interest in Afghanistan. Mahmud beg’s long lasting friendship and contacts continued with friendship of high level Turkish Republic administrators. As the foreign minister he started close relations with Turkiye, Russia, France, Italy and Germany. Even England !

As the result of Mahmud Tarzi’s high diplomatic success, in February 1921 Russia accepted Afganistan as fully independet country.

At the same time again, Turkish-Afghan diplomatic groups met in Moscow and signed the declaration of Afghan independance.


Mahmud Tarzi, is a charismatic stateman who with his high abilities could well organize “what, when and how to do.”

Beginning in 1885 his political maturity started developing by the lessons he received from valuable mentors. Later he combined his accumulations with the Turkish nationalist fractions and adapted all his knowledge to the upper governmental posts. And all these effected his diplomatic career successfully.


Mahmud Tarzi, in 1928, result of the inconscious rebellion of the people supported by some military and the religions leaders had to leave his country together with his family. Accepting the warm invitation of the Turkish leaders Atatürk and İnönü, he went to Turkiye.

Until 1933 he wrote his memories under the title “a retired diplomat.” 


"ÖMER TARZİ - GRANDSON of MAHMUD TARZİ" Istanbul,Maslak.  March'16